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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

How long can India rely on the LTTE to destable Sri Lanka?

By Shenali Waduge

How can India claim it is having the interest of the Tamil people at heart when half of Sri Lanka’s 60 year post independence has been plagued with a “made in India” covert operation which turned an insurgent movement into arguably the most sophisticated terrorist organization in the world. Is it not this LTTE terrorist movement that now has the capability to operate air, sea & suicide attacks with precision & deadly accuracy? LTTE is now banned in 32 countries & its leader wanted by Interpol & even by India – why would India then wish to overpower the Sri Lankan Government’s decision to militarily erase LTTE terror & save the country & the Sri Lankan Tamils from LTTE hegemony?

India attempting to be the US in Asia

The present Indian bullying to bring back memories of 1987 when the “Operation Liberation” Vadamarachchi was inches close to capturing Prabakaran. India saved him & followed up with an aerial invasion & dropping Parippu lentils over Jaffna. Twenty years on we are driven down memory lane once again as a result of LTTE being cornered. This time India is cautious & shrouds its intent through diplomatic statements that serve to appease the general public that India will not trespass Sri Lanka’s sovereign status. Whether these statements are gullible or not it remains very clear that the Sri Lankan public are very unhappy with the stand India is taking – Sri Lanka’s public asks only a few questions of India – did not Prabakaran kill one of India’s own leaders on Indian soil, will not the LTTE pose a threat to India itself especially since India is against separatism either in Sri Lanka or India, how long will India allow the Tamil Nadu politicos to bribe the Central Government & is this State not having historical evidence of desiring to form a separate Tamil State – India may desire Sri Lanka’s instability but is not the threat of terrorism a greater evil with the LTTE showing signs of aligning itself with terror networks within India? The links between LTTE & the Naxalites in Tamil Nadu is an apt example.

The Tamil Nadu Liberation Army had close ties with the LTTE & India even had to use aerial surveillance in the forest regions of Chhattisgarh as well as issued a strong warning to the Naxals of any aerial attacks. Will the Naxals soon replicate the LTTE Air Tiger express services within India? Furthermore, LTTE’s use of child soldiers has also been adapted in Orissa where children between 10-12 years were found distributing leaflets with Naxals – these links & examples in no way provides relief to India & shows the need for the Central Government elevate themselves from vote-bank politics. In fighting the LTTE terrorism the common masses cannot understand the position India is taking by coming to the rescue of LTTE when the Sri Lankan armed forces are advancing – the Tamil people have and are been taken care of and there is ample evidence to showcase this. India should then understand why the Sri Lankan people are questioning India’s game plan.

Creating, training, arming & financially supporting rebel movements is nothing new and has been successfully orchestrated by all the super powers of the world.

India is no exception – India turned an insurgent group into a terrorist outfit. They all believe that they can destroy their creation just as easily as they formed it – not so and the US is suffering economically as a result of this false belief. It even suffered humiliation when its very creation descended on its territory & caused the deaths of over 5000 American lives.

This action was however instrumental in providing the reason d’etre for US occupation in the Middle East for US strategic interests though it has resulted in a heavy burden on the American public & even its military are left disillusioned – who are the Al Qaeda, who are the Taliban, what do they look like, why are they ordered to kill innocent men & women – refer the statistics of the rising number of mentally affected US military officers who are suffering mentally as a result of the follies of its Government, because the US wants to have a base in Iraq, own its oil, have a base in Afghanistan, open up gas pipeline through Tajikistan, Pakistan & India, have a presence in Pakistan, become an ally with India and thus secure its might in the Asian continent. From September 14 to 17, 2001, Gallup surveyed individuals in 14 foreign countries on whether they thought that the United States should attack the country (or countries) serving as a base for the 9/11 terrorists … of those surveyed only Israel and India supported a military attack. Why are there no calls for negotiated settlement instead of military attacks?

Many of us believe that India’s reason for creating rebel movements in Sri Lanka was to destabilize the country. We are yet to determine whether India wished to have multiple militant movements or its ultimate as choice decided by RAW was the LTTE and thus the elimination of all other rebel movements and their leaderships, some of whom were murdered on Indian soil.

India’s intelligence agency the RAW has been instrumental in creating the "our boys" who eventually killed non-Tamil Indian Peace Keepers who arrived in Sri Lanka under a Peace Keeping Agreement signed between Rajiv Gandhi and J R Jayawardena. The deaths and injuries of thousands of IPKF soldiers mattered little to Indian intelligence vis a vis their larger plan for Sri Lanka. The IPKF arrived in Sri Lanka’s North to ‘garlanded welcomes’ oblivious to what they were supposed to do – which obviously meant that they were merely part of a larger game plan clearly evidenced in the manner in which the North and East were merged, establishing the provincial council system of devolution through the 13th amendment and stating that both the North and East were regarded as traditional homeland of the Tamils. The IPKF had no intention or perhaps proper “orders to disarm the LTTE especially in view of the fact that the LTTE did not really lay down any arms except those that were beyond use. If we wondered why India should commit its troops to a foreign country with little military hardware & without proper briefing in the pretext of monitoring peace, in fact it armed the country’s rebel movement that should not have arms in the first place and instill a devolution system and merge two provinces, by these acts we can ascertain how important Trincomalee must really be to India. It was of no real concern to India that the LTTE turned upon the IPKF and had to lose over 2000 of its men unnecessarily – India has yet to even officially open a monument in memory of these slain men in Sri Lanka.

Having said that India’s role in Sri Lanka has to a greater extent been determined by the Tamil Nadu factors, which seems to be competing against the Central Government to prove who is more interested in Sri Lanka’s Tamils. While none of these Tamil Nadu politicos have ever set foot on Sri Lanka to actually see whether the “crisis” scenario actually exists or not but India’s forthcoming General Elections should suffice to predict the extent of the “concerns about Sri Lankan Tamils”. Sonia’s Government is aligned with the very party in Tamil Nadu whose Chief Minister’s name came up in the Jain Commission but was luckily cleared for lack of “conclusive evidence” for his support in facilitating the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE was banned and its leader ended up as a proclaimed convict and a wanted man in India, but that tag has been ineffective in Tamil Nadu where the LTTE has a free reign. Though many have us believe that the Tamil Nadu people support the LTTE, we can confidently say that many of the Tamil Nadu public are unaware of who the LTTE are – V. Gopalasamy - Vaiko commands just less than 5% of the vote base which hardly suffices his claim to say that he has a voice. When the LTTE makes an annual income of USD200million to USD300million from its illicit and charity organizations and the running cost is just USD8million we need only ask what the LTTE does with the remaining (minimum) USD192million?

India’s role in Sri Lanka, since of late, has seen a significant resurgence. We often discount India’s silent role played behind Norway during the 2002 Ceasefire where Norway is the preferred villain. But it was this ceasefire that practically demarcated territory and handed over to the LTTE – why would India wish to be instrumental in this plan if it claims not to divide a nation?

The present Government having terminated the 2002 ceasefire agreement and decided that peace can only be brought about by eliminating the terror factor that being the LTTE suddenly leaves India with the realization that the main factor that has helped India to keep Sri Lanka unstable may finally end and India may lose the LTTE dependency in forcing Sri Lanka to bend to its will.

Alongside this, we have seen Sri Lanka’s President mastering the art of playing leaders against the other and establishing ties with China and Iran perhaps to the infuriation of India who does not wish to have Sri Lanka’s cake divided between too many players. Everyone wants a part of Sri Lanka’s pie and certainly not for any love for its people. But in democracy & diplomacy there has to be win-win situations and unfortunately India has not been able to come out of its imbroglio where it chooses to see its gigantic stature meriting the need to feel that it has a right to stamp its feet upon Sri Lanka at all times.

India cannot be naïve to the fact that there are dangers in relying on a terror movement like the LTTE – the death of Rajiv on Indian soil serves as a good reminder. An LTTE in the infancy of its terrorism chose to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi – it is a decision the LTTE now regrets but provides a blessing for it will be a ghost that will not allow India to forget.

It goes without saying that the present crisis in Sri Lanka finds itself in an infuriating state of flux purely as a result of “stakeholders” who have found a very coy set up in wanting the conflict to continue. Players like NGOs, INGOs, media, peace advocates etc., all have found a very cozy living in the prevailing scenario – there are job openings, research opportunities, foreign travel, VIP status all as a result of the “war” situation. We can then understand why even the statistics are being inflated – can there possibly be over 230,000 IDPs in the region where the army is advancing? Sri Lanka has only 3.4million Tamils of which over 800,000 are living overseas and of the remaining over half are living outside of the North and East.

Calculating these figures makes it rather a farce to think that there are over 230,000 facing a humanitarian crisis. Our next question then would be why some wish to inflate the figures – inflated figures would only serve as a perfect tool to embarrass the Government and pressurize it to stop advancing troops citing the “humanitarian” factor. Then some of these inflated figures necessitating additional food supplies may after all be for the LTTE as they have lived off the Government all throughout their terror campaign. Whether the “humanitarian” factor was ever considered by the US troops is altogether another topic but we are aware that over 1million deaths have been caused by US aerial bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan & now in Pakistan – but who is concerned about the "humans" in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The roars of Tamil Nadu politicos and its Chief Minister cannot be without the consent of the Central Government, which needed to have a reason to force it will upon the Sri Lankan Government. The irony is why these Tamil Nadu politicos did not submit their resignations when the Eastern Province was about to fall and the LTTE were being chased out? Why are the resignations, human chains, demonstrations, stoning of news channels and even Opposition Leader of Tamil Nadu only when the LTTE leader is being cornered in the North? We are aware that none of these politicos would ever resign and it was merely a promotional endeavor but it did result in Sri Lanka’s President having to send an envoy that once again served to show how much command India has over Sri Lanka.

Jaffna the capital of the North is under Government control. It is only parts of the Wanni and Mullaitivu that lies in the control of the LTTE and people in these surrounding areas are not at liberty to move since the LTTE has opted to use them as human shields. Should India, the world & Tamil Nadu politicos be concerned about these people – why should the world only be concerned about a terrorist leader & his bandwagon of murderers? Surely India’s intelligence would have sufficiently conveyed this to the Indian Government if not we must wonder whether the Indian Government & the Indian intelligence operate on two different directions & neither complimenting the other? If the Indian Government knew the exact status quo in Sri Lanka was there ever a reason for a special envoy in Basil Rajapakse to have to make that publicized visit to Delhi – it only reiterated India’s desire to remain the undisputed Queen Mary of South Asia.

The “unity and integrity” framework that India espouses sometimes appear rudimentary to what India does through actions. How can there be “unity” when terrorism exists?, How can there be “integrity” when India in part was instrumental in the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement which more or less demarcated territory to the LTTE? While the Tamils despite the war can travel & live in any part of Sri Lanka, of the 74% Sinhalese population is there any today living in the North or any able to even travel to the North? Who are in reality denied movement & access is it not the Sinhalese? To those who espouse the "genocidal" theme may well do to come to Sri Lanka & meet the ordinary people & not those on LTTE payroll to find out the truth.

Whether India’s Government changes or not, what remains certain is that India’s Foreign Policy towards Sri Lanka will remain the same and is based on national consensus derived of what suits India’s gain. Thus, it leaves very little hope for Sri Lanka until we know exactly what India wants to do with Sri Lanka and in Sri Lanka. If our politicians can think beyond the immediate, they must pool their thoughts into working out a program on how to appease a discontented groom all the while ensuring that our sovereign status is not bargained with.

For a country that has seen a conflict drag on for almost 30 years, the present military victories has given a semblance of hope – the Eastern province change around provides hope that the North is likely to see similar development taking place & the establishment of elections & Provincial Council status – a new DIG has been appointed to directly report to the Eastern Chief Minister. A large amount of territory forcefully held by LTTE has been restored to the state and the LTTE is left fighting for a small portion which will predict whether it can regain the formidable status it held for so long. There are many who have made good as a result of the conflict – many who have found a livelihood as a result of the conflict and do not wish to change the status quo. We need to however accept the truth. Sri Lanka’s 3 occasions of "ethnic" unrest has not resulted even in 1500 deaths on all three occasions.

Can this then be considered genocide? Those who enjoy promulgating the notion that the Tamils are being discriminated should come and see how Tamils live in Colombo, own property, educate their children, work in private sector & public sector, travel around the country and then ask the same question. A survey done prior to the Eastern Provincial elections by a private media channel discovered that the Tamil people was not interested in a separate state or even devolution of powers – all they wanted was better roads, better infrastructure & education systems for their children. This is the concern of the public. There are a few however, who wish to hold leadership roles in devolved areas and thus their cries for devolution.

The primary concern is to identify what is plaguing the country – it is the terrorist factor. Can any form of devolution exist where there is terror – could the North have proper elections with the LTTE ruling them through the gun? The LTTE denied itself the status of representative of the Tamil people by resorting to killing Tamils. Their list of murdered Tamil leaders number over 55 which excludes the number of ordinary Tamils. Can India or Tamil Nadu still accept the LTTE as the mouthpiece of the Tamil people? We know that India is aware of the truth but its self-interest hampers any decision to actually do what is morally and ethically right.

One of the factors that the LTTE in its hyped-up terror period would have taken into consideration in actually carrying out the assassination on Rajiv Gandhi was the fact that India was merely using the LTTE for its own end and was never willing to allow a separate state of Eelam. Today, the LTTE leader is not solely the leader of the movements – the international network of very influential figures operating clandestine procurement and trade has a larger say in what happens and Prabakaran in reality is merely taking instructions thus the present upsurge in certain sections calling for Prabakaran’s elimination.

India and all those who have found it to their favor to serve the LTTE cause must take into mind that there is a natural factor and Prabakran is no longer that youthful insurgent. He is aging and he has plenty of natural ailments that impede his movements. So the present onslaught is timely for it comes 30 years into the terror when its leader himself is suffering from the age factor – with no hierarchical power and no distinct 2nd in command, we must all wonder where the LTTE will end up. It is predicted that the LTTE would remain for many years as a guerilla unit – even this scenario is somewhat hard to accept given that the people of the North have suffered tremendously as a result of the LTTE’s domination. It is natural that the people would wish to better their lifestyle & a weak LTTE carrying out disparaging terror is hardly like to get the nod of approval from the general public so it is predicted that these youth would soon give up and attempt to better their status through education and reform. This immediately implores the Government to have ready systems in place to allow these youth to realize what they have been forcefully sheltered from. It is a matter of time that the Government can win the hearts & minds of the people but proper planning and systems must be worked out and administered.

India may well be putting together the future scenario – from what the public understands, India’s complex in remaining the mighty power has never been challenged. While India is presently faced with plenty of terror campaigns over & above the racial discriminations, the attacks on migrants, attacks on Christians and Churches, the social injustices we can but ask what is India preaching to Sri Lanka without getting its house in order first.

Sri Lanka said it would erase terrorism from the East – it did, elections were held, a new Chief Minister appointed & plenty of development programs established. If Sri Lanka now says it has only to clear the North of terrorism, let Sri Lanka eliminate that terror and hold elections in the North, appoint a Chief Minister, establish development programs – Sri Lanka did not disappoint in the East why should India or any other think it would not do the same in the North?

- Asian Tribune -

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